Civil War Veterans identified and honored with new headstones in Wayne Township

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WAYNE TOWNSHIP, Ind.—Three Civil War veterans were finally identified thanks to the work of a history professor at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Dr. Chris Walker, a history professor at Indiana Wesleyan University worked with the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office to identify the soldiers. It took them a lot of research and wading through records and death certificates, but they were finally able to name the fallen soldiers.

The soldiers were identified as Thomas Harry, Redden Johnson and James Straighter were members of the 33rd Regiment, who fought in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, the Carolinas and Washington D.C.

Walker says Private James Straighter was a native Tennessean. Redden Johnson was from Ohio. Both enlisted in Morgan County after making a living as farm laborers. After the war, Johnson became a barber. Straighter died from influenza at his home in 1900. Johnson died in 1907 due to a bacterial infection.

Harry was a lifelong deliveryman from Hope, Indiana. Unlike the other two soldiers, Walker says Harry served in the 33rd Regiment for the entirety of its service. Harry died in 1915 of a heart attack. While Harry had a small marker at the cemetery, it was illegible.

“Veterans of all ages have sacrificed a lot but Civil War veterans definitely helped us lived up to America’s founding creative being everyone is created equal. I think we have to remember their sacrifices for us to build up on it,” Pete Cowden, a Wayne Township veteran service officer said.

The soldiers they were able to identify had some special interest to Walker. He says his ancestors may have known them. Walker says it is important to remember those who came before.

“I think with every generation historically we know less and less about our ancestors. The further we get away from time the less we know,” Walker said.

On Wednesday, the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office, Indiana Wesleyan University Professor Chris Walker and many others came together to honor the soldiers. They unveiled new markers at Mt. Jackson Cemetery during a special ceremony.

Cowden thinks the recognition of service shows veterans how much they’re appreciated.

“With America facing such tough times I think it’s very important to keep in mind all the sacrifices that have got us here. So, we know where we’ve been so we can continue to move forward.”

The three soldiers were among 10,000 unmarked Indiana soldier graves in the state.

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